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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another Abortion Murder

         (May 18, 1893) Carlyle W. Harris, convicted of administering poison to his child wife, was electrocuted in Sing Sing prison at 12:40 o'clock Monday afternoon.  Thus the last act in one of the most noted and intricate murder trials on record is closed.  Young Harris had been a medical student and played the role of a fast youth at Ocean Grove when he was first introduced to Mary Helen Potts.  The rest of the story is easily summed up:  Clandestine meetings, a secret marriage, an illegal operation twice performed to hide the fact of their union, discovery by the girl's mother and a demand for a public marriage, procrastination by Harris, and finally the preparation of some headache pills for his young wife which caused her death by morphine poisoning.  Harris showed no concern at her death, and refused to allow her to be buried under his name.  Suspicion was aroused, trial and conviction followed, Gov. Flower refused a pardon, and the executioner's chair ended a base and blighted life.
      The fact that Harris spent his last hours preparing a written statement of his innocence is in keeping with his character, and only shows his remarkable powers of secretiveness and self-control.  It was natural that he should wish to preserve the name of his family from utter obliquy and to sustain his mother's unwavering faith in the innocence of her boy.  The saddest scene in this remarkable drama--more tragic far than that which ended all in the death-room Monday--was that in which the mother, after having fought off death for a year with all the intensity of a mother's love, stood before her son's prison cell to say a last farewell.  Few mortals come to know the anguish of such an hour.  The Harris tragedy is one of a class which must continue as long as there are men who look upon women as flowers to be plucked and flung away, and as long as there are women left to be deceived.

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